CLINTON HILL — Workers at an under-construction bodega were terrorized twice by armed thieves who held a gun to one victim's head and even fired the weapon during separate robberies only eight days apart, police and witnesses said.
The gun-toting thieves first showed up at the Lafayette Deli at 376 Lafayette Ave. on Nov. 21 just before 7 p.m., while its two owners and a contractor were unloading a freezer into the store, said Muneer Mubarez, who owns the store with his brother Fekri.
Mubarez said the one of the suspects put a gun to the contractor’s head and demanded all of their cash.
He and one of the other suspects then searched the victims’ pockets while a third acted as a lookout, according to a police report.
The trio snatched cash, credit cards, licenses and an iPhone — worth a total of $6,450 — from the men before fleeing into 354 Classon Ave. in the Lafayette Gardens complex, police and Mubarez said.
“They took everything that we had and ran out of the door to the projects,” he noted.
The deli owner said he thinks the suspects were the same three who tried to rob the deli again just over a week later, on Nov. 29, according to police.
This time, three men walked into the store around 5:15 p.m. with a gun and again demanded money from the contractor and his workers, Mubarez said.
“They saw the same guy inside and thought they were going to get more money from him,” he explained.
One of the suspects dragged the contractor to the floor, while a second suspect searched the workers wallets and a third kept watch at the door, police said.
As the first suspect dragged the contractor to the back of the room, Mubarez said it sounded like he tripped and accidentally fired his gun.
“The guy looked like he fell, but we don’t know because [the contractor] wasn’t facing them,” Mubarez said.
Police confirmed that a shot was fired during the robbery. The suspects then ran off without taking anything from the workers, Mubarez said.
The store owner said work would nonetheless continue at the deli, which has been under construction since the end of October, before its anticipated reopening in the first week of January.
While he said his workers aren’t scared to be back at the address, they’re concerned the robbers will return and do something worse.
“Some of these knuckleheads might do something to hurt them,” Mubarez said. “At a construction site, why would you do something like that? People are just working here, trying to make money for their families.”
No arrests had been made as of Tuesday.